Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Bloody Hell?

Japanese Blood Grass "Red Baron" in my garden.
Japanese Blood Grass is a perennial ornamental grass available for Zones 5 - 9.  There's a debate in the garden world about if it IS or IS NOT invasive.  Invasive as in spreading to the point of killing native grasses and having no viable benefit for native animals.  Don't plant if you have a native plant area since the tiny seeds are carried by the wind.  

I think it's one of those plants that in it's northern Zone (as in our part of Illinois) behaves itself and is a great burst of color.  The farther south the better chance it won't be kept in control by winter weather.  

I lost my Blood grass the year we had that brutal winter.  Another sign we are on the northern edge of it's cold hardiness zone.

One of the things I noticed about it is it's best to plant it where you don't have to worry about weeding around and in the clump.  It's not tall enough to shade out weeds and other grasses or weeds will combine in the clump.  My Blood Grass didn't kill out any native grasses or weeds.  The only way I was able to weed it was to dig the clump, gently pull out all other plants and then replant.  Not much fun and pretty hard on the Blood Grass.  

Isolating it's roots will eliminate any invasive qualities both on the Blood Grass moving too far out and other weeds moving into the clump.  It also lets the color really pop.  

This photo is not my own.

So here's the additional information about this lovely plant:  Perennial rhizomatous grass.  Grows 18-20 inches tall.  The leaves are green at the base with red tips that become more intense over the summer and fall.  Prefers full sun but will tolerate some shade with less color.  Grows in any soil except needs drainage.  Spreads through small seeds but seldom flowers and this may be why it isn't as invasive up North.  Deer resistant.  Mulch for cold winters and cut back or mow in the late fall/early spring.  

It is from Asia and Africa and is used for roof thatching.  Has Chinese medical uses.  May be eaten.  Is very flammable, even green, so don't plant near fire pits and grills, where cigarettes are thrown down or close to your house.  

And that is the "bloody hell" of Japanese Blood Grass.


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